The Year In Food » Fine Seasonal Eating

Masthead header



Last week, one of my goals driving home was to gather enough elderflowers to make something – a syrup, perhaps, or an infused vodka. The cream-colored clusters of flower heads were everywhere; it was only a matter of finding a shoulder wide enough to pull over without tumbling into a creek. The small tree is fond of damp areas, so you’ll often find them near rivers, lakes and streams. Needless to say, I followed every river road that I could.


The fragrance of elderflower is succulent, honey-rich, intensely sweet. It epitomizes the word floral. And those floral qualities are concentrated when you make this syrup. There is so much to do with them that I am committed to another trip out to the river roads and the waterways of the delta, if only to make Lottie + Doof’s gorgeous, delightful-looking elderflower fritters. And perhaps a panna cotta.


If you do decide to go on your own elderflower forage – they grow everywhere! – just make sure to know the tree you’re looking for. Apparently it’s easily confused with poisonous hemlock. Both plants grow near water, though the flowers of the hemlock are shocking white, unlike the soft, buttery color of the elderflower.

You can reduce the syrup further than is called for here to make a delicate, lovely addition to waffles, pancakes, ice cream or a fruity gelato. You can add the syrup to sparkling water or sparkling wine.


adapted from Homemade by Yvette van Boven

2 ounces elderflower blossoms, stems removed
1/2 cup sugar

Make sure to thoroughly pick through your flowers, removing all green stems. If you pick ripe, fully opened clusters of flowers, they will come away easily from the stem. Keep that in mind when hunting for them.

Combine the elderflowers with 4 cups of water. Cover and refrigerate for 3 or 4 days. Or, leave out overnight at room temperature.

Strain the elderflower infusion through a fine mesh sieve into a non-reactive pot. Add the sugar. Bring to a gentle boil to dissolve the sugar. Reduce to a simmer and cook for about 10 minutes to thicken.

Ladle the syrup into sterilized jars. Store in the fridge for a month.

Pin It
  • Kristin - May 15, 2012 - 10:58 pm

    I’ve been making elderflower syrup for the past few years from the trees that grow in my yard in Ireland. My favorite way to use it is in some Prosecco to make an elderflower Bellini – summer in a glass. I also made a syrup from the elderberries last autumn for the first time, which was lovely too. I love how versatile syrups are.ReplyCancel

  • Brian @ A Thought for Food - May 16, 2012 - 5:19 am

    So fascinating! I don’t think I’ve ever seen elderflower and it is stunning!ReplyCancel

  • erin - May 16, 2012 - 6:07 am

    gorgeous shots. and you’re a woman after my own heart. been wanting to do the same since forever. for now, i’ll have to sip on elderflower liqueur and get my fix that way.ReplyCancel

  • Carrie | acookgrowsinbrooklyn - May 16, 2012 - 6:49 am

    Elderflower syrup will forever remind me of living in Ireland. At the right time of year, elderflowers blossoms are everywhere. Ancient Celtic legends link the elder tree with magic – it’s known as the ‘fairy tree.’ Which is only appropriate, since elderflower, in both looks and taste, is nothing if not enchanting – just look at your pictures for proof of that!ReplyCancel

  • la domestique - May 16, 2012 - 7:04 am

    Elderflower really speaks my language, I love its femininity and intoxicating floral aroma. My favorite is an elderflower infused cocktail. Cheers!ReplyCancel

  • Lynda - May 16, 2012 - 7:59 am

    We always made elderflower syrup in Denmark, and I would love to make my own again here, but have not stumbled upon the flowers – yet.ReplyCancel

  • Cookie and Kate - May 16, 2012 - 8:01 am

    Pretty! I’m not sure I’ve ever seen elderflower before, and I’ve definitely never tasted it! I’ve been really into making infusions and sauces and syrups lately, so fun!ReplyCancel

  • NicoleD - May 16, 2012 - 8:37 am

    Love this! You must share the cocktails you make with this magic syrup. Those fritters!!! Just wow to it all.ReplyCancel

  • Marissa | Pinch and Swirl - May 16, 2012 - 9:03 am

    Beautiful. I love that you foraged them, makes the syrup sweeter. :)ReplyCancel

  • leela - May 16, 2012 - 9:30 am

    i love eating flowers!ReplyCancel

  • Brianne - May 16, 2012 - 9:42 am

    I found ONE elderflower tree last year, but fortunately it was in full bloom! I should go back and see how it looks now. My elderflower syrup is long gone.ReplyCancel

  • SG - May 16, 2012 - 9:46 am

    Yes! I made this last year after Lottie + Doof’s fritter introduction and really enjoyed it – most often in a cocktail! I really like that last image!ReplyCancel

  • charlotte au chocolat - May 16, 2012 - 5:29 pm

    so pretty!ReplyCancel

  • Kristin - May 17, 2012 - 5:38 am

    I’ve made elderflower syrup tons of times, it’s a favourite! I always add some lemon and sometimes even some slices of fresh ginger when the flowers soak.ReplyCancel

  • kickpleat - May 17, 2012 - 11:06 am

    I love the look of elderflowers but have never tried it as a syrup or anything! I always see elderflower liqueur in drinks but love the idea of making something similar.ReplyCancel

  • Laken - May 17, 2012 - 12:24 pm

    I love this so much. The idea of foraging gorgeous elderflowers and of having homemade syrup for summertime cocktails. Just lovely.ReplyCancel

  • autumn - May 18, 2012 - 3:16 am

    so stunning! I am forever jealous of folks who find elderflowers in the wild. I am such a sucker for flowery tastes and elderflower is near the top of my list. Looking forward to seeing how you use this.ReplyCancel

  • Amrita - May 18, 2012 - 4:27 am

    Oh, we have this Pimm’s cocktail recipe where we add elderflower syrup, a fat pinch of salt and drop in a few raspberries into the cup. Its like a cup of heaven in summer!ReplyCancel

  • Kelsey - May 19, 2012 - 2:12 pm

    This is so awesome. I’ve had it on my list to recreate a cocktail I had a few weeks ago at one of our favorite restaurants down here, it’s called the “King Collins” and it’s made with Hendrick‚Äôs Gin, elderflower syrup, the juice of one lemon, cucumber, and a splash of sparkling water. Try it! Seriously bomb.ReplyCancel

  • Beth {local milk} - May 19, 2012 - 4:18 pm

    Food for faeries! Fantastic. I so love florals in food… lavender, hibiscus, jasmine, honeysuckle… and now I must try elderflower!ReplyCancel

  • sarah - May 20, 2012 - 7:29 pm

    I’ve never tried elderflower {and have been day dreaming about it since finishing the chapter in Ripe}. I’m going to have to track some down! This looks lovely.ReplyCancel

  • Jessica Raav - May 20, 2012 - 8:05 pm

    Are these from the Red or Blue Elderberry? Do you know if flowers from either kind are useable for making syrups and infusions?ReplyCancel

  • Michelle @ Spinning Spoons - May 20, 2012 - 9:11 pm

    Can I ask where you looked for these? I’m in the Bay Area and still trying to get used to where everything is… I’d love to try this out!ReplyCancel

  • nicole franzen - May 21, 2012 - 6:22 am

    Pretty! If I come across some in the markets I am def gonna try to make this :)ReplyCancel

  • Mixtapes and Mash - May 23, 2012 - 1:10 pm

    What a lovely summer drink and you’ve captured it so beautifully in your pictures. Looks so delicate! I loved drinking elderflower cordial as a little girl, I’d love to have it again.ReplyCancel

  • thecitygourmand - May 23, 2012 - 4:33 pm

    This is incredible! We don’t the climate or green spaces in Australia to be able to ‘forage’ for elderflowers. The closest thing we have is imported cordials and ricola lozenges…lame!ReplyCancel

  • Nikole - May 24, 2012 - 12:22 pm

    So awesome.ReplyCancel

  • Brigita - May 25, 2012 - 6:44 am

    I love elderflower as a syrup, fritters, anything at all with that delicious smell! My mom has a neat trick for separating the flowers from the stems. She stores the clusters of flowers in a nylon bag for a day, then she simply shakes each stem and the flowers fall right off.ReplyCancel

  • Mary - June 26, 2012 - 6:25 am

    Can you tell me why I can’t use the flowers from the elderberry bush (blacklace)? It’s a red leafed variety of elderberry.
    Thanks for the reply.ReplyCancel

  • Kimberley - June 26, 2012 - 7:36 am

    Hi Mary – Perhaps try a Google search?ReplyCancel

  • [...] year it was elderflower syrup, this year people go all crazy about rhubarb [...]ReplyCancel

  • [...] Cream from Lottie + Doof – Nigella Lawson’s Chocohotopots recipe review from The Kitchn – Elderflower Syrup from The Year in Food – Braised Leeks + Muscavado Lentils from Sprouted Kitchen – [...]ReplyCancel

  • [...] 01 The Year in Food “Elderflower Syrup” [...]ReplyCancel

Your email is never published or shared. Required fields are marked *